Sunday, February 25, 2024

Bishop Strickland champions sanctity of life, turning America into ‘one nation under God’ at CPAC

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Joseph Strickland, the beloved former bishop of Tyler, Texas, delivered powerful words on the need for humility, the sanctity of life and the goal of reforming America into “one nation under God” on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

Speaking at CPAC’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, Strickland began with the notion that the United States must reform itself to the ideal of being “one nation under God.”

“We need to really pray and reflect on what that means, and return to those values,” Strickland urged. “Because too many, in the political world especially, are encouraging an atheistic approach to leading this nation. That will never last. That will never thrive.”

Strickland emphasized to the audience that the first step to returning America to its proper place under God is “humility.”

“Humility,” the bishop began. “Think about our nation, our time, our culture … humility is not popular, (but) humility is the greatness of Jesus Christ.”

Strickland mentioned that Christ, while being fully God, was so perfectly humble that He chose to become man starting from the smallest of human lives, an embryo in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“We need to remember that,” he stressed, encouraging everyone to seek God’s mercy always.

Strickland then related how he would like to share a letter written by a friend of his, challenging him and “all of us.” Beginning this letter, Strickland read:

Those of you who are gathered here today are a group of people who understand the importance of tradition, the sanctity of life and the importance of staying ‘on course.’ However, there are many people in our country who might describe you as intolerant, while lamenting that the country can’t be moved to where it needs to go because of ‘these people.’

Strickland explained that his friend’s letter included a quote from the late American Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which seems even more poignant today than when it was delivered over five decades ago. Quoting Sheen, Strickland said:

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.

“Therefore, as we go forward and fight this battle … we must be careful to not take on the attitude that the Lord will overlook our transgressions because, after all, look at what we are accomplishing. We must understand that, if anything, we will be held to a higher standard of conduct because – to whom much is given, much is required.”

Strickland, stressing the necessity of ridding America of its sins, then quoted Mother Teresa and her critique of America:

America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts – a child – as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.

Strickland, adding to Mother Teresa’s words, stated:

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, that was a wonderful day, but we are still far from stamping out the killing of our children. Make no mistake that every one of us still has the blood of children on our hands for there is always more that we can do to make abortion not only illegal but unthinkable.

Strickland then turned to an even more recent issue, that of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Strickland heralded the Catholic Church’s condemnation of the practice and outlined why opposition to the procedure is integral to the pro-life ethic.

He urged those to become well-versed in all issues opposing life, including that of IVF, which like abortion, brings an end to life by the artificial creation and destruction of human embryos.

Strickland challenged those in the audience to help “guide” political leaders in the true pro-life ethic, praising the recent court decision in Alabama that recognized the dignity of human beings in their embryonic form.

Strickland then read from Second Chronicles, urging the audience to truly listen to the words of Scripture:

If my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence and turn from their wicked ways, then I will listen from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their country …

But if you turn away and forsake my laws and commandments which I have laid down for you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I shall uproot them from the country which I have given them.

In his concluding remarks, Strickland turned to the words of St. Ignatius:

Truth always ends by victory; it is not unassailable, but invincible.

He urged the audience to never “compromise the truth,” warning that even a little comprise can “destroy.”

“Don’t compromise! Stand for the truth, and trust in its power.”